process notes and musings by mk (a. fell)
hi! my name is mk and i am a writer!
the work that i do primarily focuses on the connections between people (especially found families) and finding levity in dark times. i am a big believer in happy endings and subverting expectations. there is nothing more that i love than finding the weirdest situation you can think of, looking it dead in the eye, and thinking "eh, i've seen something weirder." everything i write is speculative— sci-fi, weird horror, urban fantasy.
my work runs the gamut of structure from poetry to fiction to plays to tabletop games. i am queer, jewish, and autistic; and i strive to put work that looks like me into the world. much of my work that exists now are pen-and-paper RPGS, typically using playing cards, tarot cards, or other things you could consider an "oracle" in order to help guide play.
if you would like to see some of the work i do, you can find my games and some of my self-published poetry on my itch! if hearing is more of your thing, i'm also part of an actual-play podcast that tells one-shot stories using tabletop games that don't require a game master, which you can find on twitter at @ftlcast
my cover photo, by the way, is a character of mine drawn by the INCREDIBLE sasha reneau, creator of the tabletop game spindlewheel. you can find them at @sashareneau on twitter.
i really need to start posting more.
hi everyone! the last three months have been... well, let's just say not great from the personal side of things. i'm okay physically, everyone in my family is fine, but i have a LOT of plates spinning and money anxiety makes it hard to do anything creative.
i DID publish THE CHRYSALIS, which is my beam saber playbook where you play the mech instead of the pilot. having worked on this on and off for the last two years, seeing it finally out in the world just makes me so happy. i do still intend to publish my developer's notes here, and very likely the truncated version of them will go on cohost, where i have started to migrate all of my TTRPG design notes since twitter has begun to fall apart around us.
in the meantime i have started poking at writing a very small oracle deck of my own! the intention is to make it a legacy deck as well as a cipher, so we'll see how well that goes. i like the tone i've written into it so far. i'll actually tell y'all the title of the deck: it will be called BURN AFTER READING, so make of that what you will.
i'm going to make a longer post next month (and i mean that this time!) with my goals for 2023 in terms of my art. 2023 is already shaping up to be a busy year for me with IRL events and the like, so probably will be smaller publishing goals and more long-term project stuff. we shall see!
in the meantime, i'm going to go back to drafting my novel; pretty sure the reason why i hit a wall is because of a contrived conversation, so i'm going to frog my last ten rows of dialogue (fellow knitters will roll their eyes at this reference) and start it from scratch. hope you all have a restful holiday weekend if you celebrate, and if you don't, have a restful weekend anyway!
lol i tried to make a post two months ago and then it refused to post so it ended up waiting another few months.
hello! it has been a BUSY summer for me and things are only going to pick up from here. i started off this summer by joining moonshot podcasting network for their first charity stream following their rebrand and we raised seven THOUSAND dollars for trans lifeline over the course of memorial day weekend! then end of june-beginning of july was consumed by my moving into a brand new place with three of my favorite people in the world which was a MUCH-NEEDED change of space. next thing i know it's august and the heatwaves are making my brain melt out of my EARS.
i managed to stick with one of my self-imposed deadlines and released THIS IS A GAME ABOUT WRESTLING right at the end of may! if you haven't yet checked it out please do-- i'm really pleased with how it came out!
next up for me is the beam saber playbook i have been poking at on and off over the last year or so. i have received the art for it from caro, so all that's left for it is layout and a final editing pass before i do the big drop. in case you haven't heard me talking about it, the playbook is called THE CHRYSALIS and i think you'll find there's nothing quite like it around. here's an excerpt from it.
[There were other things they asked when they built us— at least, at first. About what having us was meant to accomplish. About what our shapes meant. About who could pilot us, and how that might change them. About what we would symbolize in the wake of war. They used to consider all of that. I think that stopped when they realized we couldn’t win the war for them, because the other side had had the same idea.]
i'll leave this post here-- most of what i have going on beyond this is personal writing projects for publication, so i'm going to stay quiet about those at least for now.
stay cool, everyone!
hello everyone! WOW! it's the end of april already! we're almost a third of the way through 2022 already-- when did that happen?
admittedly i'm a little biased-- i had my wisdom teeth removed at the beginning of march, and since i've never had surgery before i was completely blindsided by the amount of recovery time goes into a procedure like that. by the time i had three days in a row without pain i was two days away from a weeklong london trip i had scheduled almost six months ago which carried me through until the end of march.
as i had expected, the trip was a MUCH needed creative and emotional reset for me, enough so that i have finally (gasp) started rewrites on my novel. WILD! i smashed together everything i had previously written into one doc and have about 54k of words, enough of a skeleton draft that my rewrite is going to be SEQUENTIAL: starting at the beginning of the novel and writing every scene, in order, until i reach the end. i am very bad at sequential writing. everyone keep your fingers crossed for me.
one thing i realized while in london was that i never let myself even consider the possibility of a full-time art career. i spent so much of my teenage and adult years telling myself it wasn't practical. that's not... NOT true? it's certainly unstable. i don't foresee myself being able to do it ANY time soon. but it is also really nice to be at the point in my writing where i'm good enough that the possibility of my being AT ALL successful is like. in reach.
anyway enough philosophizing! let's talk about GAMES. after i finish this post i'm going to go write up the last section of the wrestling game i spoke about in my last post. i got stuck for over a MONTH trying to get the layout to jive enough that i could finish writing it (before you ask no, i don't know why my brain works like this either)(shoutout to jay for bearing the brunt of my graphic design frustration) but i'm happy to say i'm UNSTUCK, the game is close to FINISHED, and hopefully it'll be on itch for probably about $5 by double or nothing (the AEW show that falls at the end of may). here's a preview of how i got myself unstuck:
one last thing! if you somehow missed it, i wrote a piece for gatecrashers about probably the greatest tag team wrestling match i've ever seen, which was the young bucks vs FTR match i saw live in boston at the beginning of april. i'm very leery of calling anything the best thing i've ever written because i know judgements like that are subjective, but i was especially proud of this piece. it felt like it was something i needed to share. and apparently other people liked it too, because the young bucks twitter AND one-half of FTR retweeted the article the day it went live. i wasn't expecting that at ALL. it's enough of a dream to be able to write about wrestling. it's another thing entirely to get an acknowledgement like that from the people you're writing about-- my fellow artists know how HUGE a retweet can be for your audience. it's pretty neat! i'm very grateful for it.
okay, yes, i did also scream aloud when i realized the young bucks had retweeted it. i'm a wrestling fan first and foremost.
that's it for me! if you made it to the end of this post: thank you and go listen to follow the leader's arc 62, it's the start of a recurring arc with all new characters and some of our best work yet. in the meantime, i hope everyone is staying healthy and enjoying the (somewhat) warmer weather!
ah shit it's february huh. i did also type "january" when i started writing this post so you know, that's how that's going.
you know how people talk about how the liminal time between christmas and new year doesn't exist? yeah, that really happened to me, coupled with a huge work surge and a death in my family that i didn't get a chance to properly grieve and i lost quite a bit of january. but hi! hello! i am here. wow i just reread my last hello post and quite a lot of things i spoke about did not actually happen, although the referenced session of dumb kids did finish releasing this week and our listeners cried so there we go. mission accomplished.
i have been toying, on and off, with the text of a game i am calling THIS IS A GAME ABOUT WRESTLING. it is a game about wrestling. "no shit, mk" okay it's also a game about homoerotic violence, storytelling, character bleed, and the sexual tension between wrestlers when they really want to beat the shit out of each other. you know how many times i've seen wrestlers do the forehead touch and yelled NOW KISS at my screen? this is for that. i am actually SO excited about this game that i have DONE MY OWN COVER ART FOR IT, very much in the style of my good friend caro asercion, whose vector work has been a huge inspiration for me trying to do some vectors of my very own. here's the WIP of the cover image-- not sold on the background yet, so this is of course subject to change.
this game is also a hack of their game dwindle, but designed for two players fighting for control of one grid. does it work? i have no idea. i'll playtest it and get back to you.
i've realized in the last few months that i can just like... write bad things. this might seem obvious to some of you, but i've always been a bit of a raging perfectionist, especially about this one singular skill i have. however i have spent the last twelve years of my life writing-- twelve! i started really, truly, properly writing in the eighth grade, age thirteen, and i still haven't learned how to do efficient dungeon crawls without the floor collapsing under the heroes every five seconds. even something i wrote in like an hour in a fever dream and slapped onto the internet for two people that i think is kind of bad is going to have people being like "damn mk this is really good" (and yes, i can look back on it and be like "hey this is ok actually" it's just like an in the moment thing.)
so while i have been suffering HARD from creative burnout and low motivation, i have just like... been letting myself just kind of chill? and write things knowing "hey this might be bad and that's ok because if you reread it and don't like it you can just rewrite it." which is like a HUGE step for me and has been really beneficial in my recovering from burnout. i don't feel like i have to be writing all the time. and when i do write, if i don't like it, i can put it down, come back to it later, and try again. it's doing wonders. i feel like i'm actually making progress.
this doesn't mean i'm ready to start doing things again! i want to let this run its course so i don't repeat this cycle in another three months. but it does make it easier to imagine a light at the end of the tunnel, and i can say with definite certainty that my emotional state right now is in no way linked to current creative endeavors.
apart from memoria stuff, but that's a kickstarter update, not a comradery one.
anyway that's all for now! i will HOPEFULLY have more game text next time i post, but until then i urge you all to go listen to follow the leader and to check the standing stones twitch page at the end of february to catch our stream for blount pride-- i will not be there, but the games being played are going to be fun anyway! i hope everyone had a lovely and safe holiday, and please get boosted if you haven't already!
hey again everyone! these sort of posts will have to do until i have more work consistently updating and circulating to discuss here.
we're over halfway through nanowrimo and guess what!!! i won!!! as in i succeeded in my goal of getting more words onto the page of my novel!!! it's honestly enough of a complete skeleton now that i can say with DEFINITE certainty there's only another ~20k or so of this draft before it's a COMPLETE, ENTIRE BOOK, which is so wild to think about! my nano project from two years ago, blank slate, was a serialized noir detective story that's just as long as this is, but there's a difference between writing fifteen interconnected ~5k stories and one complete novel draft. i'm deep in my feelings about it. (it has an ENDING! that's HAPPY! and i'm HAPPY WITH IT!)
lots of exclamation points today! i'm just really excited about the work i've been doing. the dumb kids session we recorded at the beginning of this month is the culmination of work i've been doing for the last year or so, and i'm really excited for it to come out so i can talk about it-- keeping secrets is so hard! but it'll be worth it. jade and i also did an impromptu double-game session of ftl that should be coming out in early season six, featuring a character i haven't gotten to play in a LONG, LONG time. jade and i have a tendency of going absolutely ham when the recordings are just the two of us, and this one is no different.
over the holidays i'm going to be going home to see my parents, so i'm going to try and take it easy and not pressure myself to be doing TOO much work (though you can still expect the third part of my ringcrashers coverage of the TBS tournament.) it is also my birthday in a little over a week!
next month we've got a couple of BIG recordings slotted in for ftl and dumb kids, AND i will be taking the GRE to get that much closer to grad school. i'm not going to make any promises, but... i MIGHT be able to get a game out next month as well. NO PROMISES THOUGH! the kids aren't alright is the closest one to being release-ready, so it will probably be that. i may also do a joint birthday-chanukah games sale on my itch to give me a little extra breathing room, since i'm currently paycheck-to-paycheck and heading back to therapy.
i've got about half a blog post written with my thoughts about death (related-unrelated to me going to therapy) so expect that at some point once i'm satisfied that it says everything i want to. i also intend to do an end-of-year roundup of the things that have brought me the most joy this year (i've consumed a LOT of media!) which i hope to post mid-to-late december.
if you live in america, i hope you have a happy holiday and remember whose land we all live on! if you're outside of america, i hope you have an excellent end of the month!
it's SO nice to be making these posts again.
hello everyone! if you don't know me, i'm mk and i'm a writer! if you DO know me, hello again! i hope everyone is having a lovely day!
i'd like to try and make a hello post monthly again. i used to do these on patreon as a summary of the things i've been up to and things i'm planning for the month. they tend to be sporadic, but i try to get them out at LEAST before the end of the month.
so what have i been up to since the last time i made a post like this? ... well.
okay so here's the stuff i have planned for the next month or so! november is national novel writing month, and i VERY last minute decided to get a few more words on the page of my novel. it's at 45?k or so about now-- doubled from where i was at the start of the summer! this is the longest this draft has ever been and i'm so excited for where it's shaping up. i'm hesitant to post snippets to it to comradery since i intend to revise the draft and pitch it for publication, but here is a tweet-length elevator pitch for y'all:
thirteen months ago, john successfully ran away from his destiny. now that the world has ended, all he wants to do is find his long-missing best friend and go home, but someone's trying to dig their claws into him from beyond the grave.
it's gay and spooky and healing and it'll have a happy ending, what more could you want.
i've also got some stuff i'm working on to pitch to litmags at some point in the future-- i have a triptych of death myths i've been juggling in my head. one features a character i've had since i was in eighth grade, one features a version of a character of mine from my podcast follow the leader, and one features a brand-new character as i explore what a death myth looks like in ~spaaaaace~. excited to see how that one shapes up for myself.
most of my games stuff is on hold for the moment while i remember how to be a creator, though you can expect some more oracle games from me at some point early next year, as well as at least two wrestling games and one game that'll probably only make sense to people who speak math as fluently as i do.
oh! speaking of wrestling! i'm really excited to have joined the ringcrashers team over at gatecrashers.fan! we've got some great new pieces in the works for the coming weeks, including a history of the dark order and (eventually) some more coverage of GCW! my first piece, which was about omega vs. danielson at AEW grand slam, can be read there now; and eventually i plan to write more about women's, queer, and intergender wrestling.
i thiiiiiink that's what i've got for now! if you're new here, you can follow me on twitter at citadelofswords, where i've been posting a lot about wrestling but occasionally talk about games and podcast stuff; if you would like to check out my tabletop games you can find me on itch.io, and if you want to see some of my writing (including a project related to follow the leader i intend to get back to) you can check out my website: https://paradoxicalrenegade.com. i will talk to y'all again, if not sooner then definitely next month as i puzzle words together for nano!